The World Wetlands Day was celebrated with a special salute paid to the Vembanad Lake and the adjoining wetlands, a key Ramsar site of the State, here on Wednesday.

The programme, organised by the Samyukta Kayal Samrakshana Samithi, the Vembanad Nature Club and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), saw over 150 members of the lake protection forum along with fishermen and their families who depend on the lake for their livelihood, getting together on the banks of the Shraithode in Muhamma panchayat here.

Inaugurated by Muhamma grama panchayat president Deepa Ajithkumar, the event was presided over by E.M. Manoharan, president, Samyukta Kayal Samrakshana Samithi, and had a number of contests, including a swimming competition for men. Kiran Kumar of the Ambalakadavu lake protection forum won the first prize in the contest for ‘Young Men’, while Thilakan of Anjuthaikkal won the prize in the ‘Middle-aged Men’s’ category. N.K. Ravi of Anjuthaikkal won the first prize for holding his breath underwater for the maximum time.

Later, at a public meeting, ATREE programme officer T.D. Jojo explained the significance of the Wetlands Day, celebrated on February 2 every year, while Ms. Ajithkumar distributed working funds and grants for construction of two fish sanctuaries in the lake to the Federation of Lake Protection fora. Noted environmentalist K.V. Dayal delivered the ‘Wetlands Day’ message. As dusk fell, lamps were lit and set afloat on the lake as part of a Lake Salute, after which a pledge was taken to protect the lake.